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Nestle's Project Iron Man: a real-life 'Star Trek' replicator

Nestle's Project Iron Man: a real-life 'Star Trek' replicator
Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Tea. Earl Grey. Hot."

Replicators that create food and supplies tailored for an individual out of seemingly thin air may not be too far in the future. At least, that's what Nestle seems to think.

Nestle has made billions serving up gourmet coffee to people with the Nespresso. If you've never seen one, a Nespresso machine looks like a Keurig and an espresso machine had a baby. It brews hot drinks one at a time with small pods like a Keurig, but has some of the functionality of an espresso machine with a built-in milk heater/foamer.

Sounds fantastic, doesn't it?

But Nestle has grander plans than just coffee. Aware of the nutritional deficits of most people's daily diet, Nestle wants to create a machine that will deliver tailored dietary supplements to individuals.

The program is code-named "Iron Man" and is just one part of a larger plan that Nestle is implementing to take on brain, metabolic and gastrointestinal disorders that occur from poor diet. The program is being carried out at the Nestle health institute (NIHS), where over 100 scientists are working on various projects, like identifying the biomarkers of obesity.

“Iron Man is an analysis of what’s missing in our diets, and a product, tailored to you, to help make up that difference,” NIHS director Ed Baetge said over lunch in the campus cafeteria of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where the Nestle researchers are based. “In the past, food was just food. We’re going in a new direction.”

 Nestle is hoping to create an actual replicator that would create nutritionally tailored foods for people with specific conditions, from diabetics to those with Celiac's disease.

"Although it will take years to develop, NIHS chief Baetge says the device could resemble the 'replicator' that synthesized meals on demand in the Star Trek TV series.

“ 'Out comes your food at the press of a button,' Baetge said. 'If we do this right, it can be the next microwave in your kitchen.' "

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Source: Bloomberg
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